New Zealand

City description

The joy of Auckland’s lifestyle is the envy of the rest of the world. At the northern end of North Island, this delightful sunny city stretches out from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Wherever they are in Auckland, “Kiwis” are never far from white sandy beaches, with turquoise blue water lapping at their shores. Muriwai, Mission Bay, Mairangi Bay... Untamed or more restrained, they border the city like enchanting havens of peace, perfect for surfing or for lazing about… or for running if you happen to be training for the Auckland Marathon. At the weekend, it’s time to head to the islands, less than an hour by ferry from Auckland. The volcanic Rangitoto, a nature reserve clinging on to a tiny piece of land, can be seen from the port. But it’s Waiheke Island that stands out as the ultimate destination, with its fine sand, walking routes along steep cliffs and primeval forest. Popular with artists and trendy locals, Waiheke is home to a huge nature reserve, studded with contemporary sculptures, the Connells Bay Sculpture Park. Its rolling vineyards produce a delicious local wine, served in the island’s restaurants, which live alongside art galleries and tempting shops. In many ways, Auckland and the surrounding area are like a summer seaside resort, where time passes a bit more slowly.

And yet the most heavily populated city in New Zealand is an unashamedly urban and contemporary place back in the city center. Behind the port with its towering masts there’s the New Zealand Maritime Museum, and then St. Patrick's Cathedral and the business district, bristling with skyscrapers. They include the Sky Tower, the tallest in the southern hemisphere. This architectural feat provides a visual reference point on Auckland’s skyline: you can see the Sky Tower as far away as Parnell. Here, in the city’s oldest neighbourhood, the laid-back attitude of the Kiwis wins through, making you forget the bustle of SkyCity and the like. Its wooden houses built by 19th century colonists are now home to countless art galleries. Popular with artists, this chic, residential neighbourhood is overlooked by the Auckland Museum, one of the biggest in the country, set in the lush greenery of the Auckland Domain. After your introduction to the real Auckland, head to the stylish, bohemian Ponsonby. It may be quite a way away from Auckland’s biggest shopping center, Sylvia Park, but Ponsonby is a popular haunt with fashionistas, with its concept stores, luxury labels and designer window displays. Karen Walker, the grande dame of Kiwi fashion, lives here and has opened one of her boutiques here. The designer is the ultimate proof of how well New Zealand’s creativity exports. She comes from the fertile breeding ground of an open-minded artistic community that is constantly on the go. Auckland provides the backdrop for many events, like the Auckland Arts Festival, the New Zealand International Film Festival and the Auckland Lantern Festival.

The latter reflects the cosmopolitan DNA of a city that is geographically isolated, just like its home nation. The food takes its influences from the likes of France and Asia for a fusion of flavors, without ever compromising on the healthy freshness of its ingredients. The plethora of markets that fill the urban landscape, including the ever popular Auckland Night Market and Otara Market, are just two mouth-watering examples. Here too, the city’s relationship with nature is celebrated... Auckland is built on volcanoes after all. This geological past provides the pretext for one last adventure, to One Tree Hill, a volcanic peak that rises up from Cornwall Park. This immense green jewel is the perfect end to your introduction to Aotearoa, the “Land of the Long White Cloud” in Maori.
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